As a little boy, I was often told not to waste my food and would be reminded that there are so many people without food in the world. Not surprisingly, today I still hear parents saying the same thing to their children with the hope that they would learn to appreciate the things they have. The irony of it is social concern is the furthest thing in their minds but yet an occasional reminder does help some ways. The call to remember the poor has always been in the language of the Church. In the Old Testament, the care for the poor was given importance as God is seen as the protector and defender of the poor. Jesus in the New Testament had this preferential love for the poor.

Upon being elected, Pope Francis Pope Francis told about 5,000 journalists gathered for an audience with him, “How I would like a church that is poor and for the poor.” This is not something new since already on the early seventies, it was considered fashionable to be associated with the words “Option for the Poor”. Seminaries and schools of theology offered courses on what this option meant and even Catholic Social Teaching was not far from “the poor” since the “Church’s love for the poor is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, by the poverty of Jesus and by his attention to the poor.”

Every year during the season of Lent, the poor are brought to our attention and the social responsibility that we share in helping the poor. If not through the homilies and Lenten reflections, at least the Lenten offering envelopes bring our attention to the poor. There is no doubt that the monies collected during Lent go a long way in helping those materially disadvantaged for whatever the reason may be. However, should not our “almsgiving” go beyond the envelope? Today we are confronted with not only the multitudes of the hungry, the needy, and the homeless, but also a whole generation who are “poor” in ways that are more than just material… we face people who are spiritually and emotionally poor.

Some of us think that we need to be rich and have resources in excess in order to help the poor. However it is not necessary to only be materially rich to help the poor. We are all “rich” in our own way and have “resources” that we do not realise. To help those who are poor is not how much we give, but the attitude and willingness to share the little we may have that goes a long way: When we are generous in welcoming people and sharing something with them—some food, a place in our homes, our time—not only do we no longer remain poor: we are enriched. I am well aware that when someone needing food knocks at your door, you always find a way of sharing food; as the proverb says, one can always ‘add more water to the beans’! Is it possible to add more water to the beans? Always? And you do so with love, demonstrating that true riches consist not in materials things, but in the heart! (Pope Francis).

Eradicating poverty requires many structural reforms in the governance of society and many of us are not in the position to move those reforms. But if each one of us can reform our hearts from being indifferent to showing a genuine generosity that stems from our love for and following of Jesus, then we surely are on that road to being a Church that is poor and for the poor.